We will study the general system and the mind as usual. Cocculus slows down all the activities of the body and mind, producing a sort of paralytic weakness. Behind time in all its actions. All the nervous impressions are slow in reaching the centers. If you pinch this patient on the great toe he waits a minute and then says “oh,” instead of doing it at once. In response to questions he answers slowly, after apparent meditation, but it is an effort to meditate. And so with all nervous manifestations, thought, muscular activity, etc. He cannot endure any muscular exertion, because he is weak ; he is tired. First comes this slowness, then a sort of visible paralytic condition, and then complete paralysis. This may be local or general. There are certain causes which produce these effects. A wife nursing her husband, a daughter nursing her father, becomes worn out by the anxiety, worry and loss of sleep. She is exhausted; unable to sustain any mental or physical effort; weak in the knees, weak in the back, and when the time conies for her to sleep she cannot sleep. Sickness brought about in this manner is analogous to that caused by the Cocculus poison, and hence Cocculus from the time of Hahnemann to the present time has been a remedy for complaints from nursing, not exactly complaints that come on in the professional nurse, for Cocculus needs the combination of vexation, anxiety and prolonged loss of sleep, such as you have in the mother or daughter who is nursing, or the nurse when she takes on the anxiety felt by a member of the family; a wife nursing her husband through typhoid, or other long spell of sickness. At the end of it she is prostrated in body and mind, she cannot sleep, she has congestive headaches, nausea, vomiting and vertigo. That shows how a Cocculus case begins. One who is thus exhausted in body and mind goes out for a ride. She gets sick headache, pain in the back, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. She gets into the car to take a journey. Sick headache comes on. She goes on a mile or two and will have nausea, vomiting and sick headache. She feels weak all over, feels as if she would sink away.
The Cocculus patient gets into a wagon to ride, sick headache, nausea, vertigo come on. The Cocculus patient cannot endure motion. Aggravated by talking, by motion, by the motion of the eyes, by riding. Wants plenty of time to turn the head cautiously to see things. Wants plenty of time to move, to think, to do everything. The whole economy is slowed down, inactive.
Tremulous, tired, excitable. The hands tremble when taking hold of anything, or he takes hold of it awkwardly and drops it. Incoordination runs through this remedy, and hence it has been used with good effect in locomotor ataxia. It has staggering and numbness. Numbness is quite a feature of this remedy. Numbness of the lower extremities, in the fingers, in the shoulder, of the side of the face. Complaints from anxiety.
Extreme irritability of the nervous system. The least noise or jar is unbearable. You have heard that Bell. is worse from a jar. So is Cocculus, and quite like Bell. Cocculus is also like Belladonna in its sleeplessness, and other general conditions. This sensation of seasickness and dizziness is sometimes felt all over the body; a sort of faint feeling which is followed sometimes by loss of consciousness, or a paralytic rigidity. Stiffness of the joints is a common feature in Cocculus. It belongs to the limbs in general. But it is such a strong symptom I will mention it here. Limbs straightened out and held there for a while are painful when flexed. Persons who have been suffering from anxiety, prostrated, will lie on the back, straighten out the limbs, and can get up only with great difficulty. The doctor comes and he discovers what is the matter. He bends the limbs and she screams, but she is relieved after the bending, and then she can get up and move about. You cannot find that anywhere else. It is entirely without inflammation. It is a sort of a paralytic stiffness, a paralysis of the tired body and mind. The Cocculus headaches and backaches, pains and distress are present. A man will stretch out his leg on a chair and he cannot flex it until he reaches down with his hands to assist. Such things are strange. Faintness on moving the body, fainting from pain in the bowels, from colic. With all this slowing down of the thoughts and activities the patient remains extremely sensitive to suffering, sensitive to pain.
Spasms through the body like electric shocks, convulsions after loss of sleep. This patient goes on with nervousness and excitement, anxiety and loss of sleep until convulsions supervene. Tetanus. Cholera, attacks of paralytic weakness with pain, paralysis of the face, of the eyes, paralysis of the muscles everywhere, paralysis of the limbs. Even diphtheria has been known to induce a state very much like I have described as due to loss of sleep and anxiety. I remember a case of paralysis of the lower extremities that was prescribed for by a very careful homoeopathic physician many years ago. It was one of the things that surprised me in the early days of my prescribing and observation. It was the case of a little girl with paralysis of lower extremities after diphtheria and no hope was given. But Doctor Moore (he was then an Octogenarian) looked over the case. I was acquainted with the family and with the doctor. He studied the case carefully and gave Cocculus c.m. It was not many days before the child began to move the legs, and the condition was perfectly cleared up, and I have never ceased to wonder at it. It was a good prescription, perfectly in accord with all the elements of the case. Doctor Moore was one of the pupils of Lippe and Hering.
You can readily see what is coming when the mental activities are slowed down, from anxiety, and loss of sleep, such as we have in nursing. The mind appears like approaching imbecility, and as you look upon the true Cocculus case you wonder if that patient has not been growing insane for a year or two, because the mind seems almost a blank. He looks into space and slowly turning the eyes toward the questioner answers with difficulty. It occurs in nervous prostration, in typhoid fever. It is so nearly like Phos. acid that the two remedies must be carefully individualized. Time passes quickly. He cannot realize that it has been a whole night. A week has gone by, and it seems but a moment, he is so dazed. Slowness of comprehension; cannot find the right word to express his thoughts, so slowly does his mind work ; what has passed he cannot remember; forgets what he has just read; cannot talk ; cannot bear the least noise; cannot bear the least contradiction. The tongue will not respond. There is confusion of mind and difficulty of articulation. An idea comes into his mind and becomes fixed. He cannot convert it or move it, but it just stays there, and if he speaks he will say something that will cause you to realize that that same idea is holding on to him. So he appears to be in a state of imbecility. Mental derangement with vertigo. With most all the mental symptoms there is vertigo. He lies in a state of apparent unconsciousness, yet knows all that is going on and at times is even able to remember and describe what was going on, but does not even wink; does not move a muscle. There is an appearance of ecstacy, a smile upon the face. Knows what is going on, yet with complete relaxation of the muscles without speech or apparent recognition of anyone. Perfectly relaxed, and yet knowing what is going on. That resembles catatonia. Unable to think. Fears death. Feels as if some awful thing was about to happen. All this is the result of grief, anxiety, vexation, prolonged loss of sleep. The vertigo is usually attended with nausea. A Cocculus case cannot look out of the car window, cannot look down from the boat and see water moving, without nausea immediately.
Perhaps you can even now surmise what the head symptoms are to be. With the headaches come dizziness, extreme nausea and gastric symptoms. Headaches brought on from riding in a wagon or riding in the cars or on shipboard; headache from motion. Cannot accommodate the eyes to moving objects; dizziness and whirling and headache. Congestion of the head, pressing, .throbbing, headache. Headache as if the skull would burst, or like a great valve opening and shutting. Sick headache with vertigo. Headache again from working in the sun. Sick headache from riding in a carriage.
Dim sightedness and disturbance of vision. Paralytic weakness of the muscles of the eyes, as well as the muscles of accommodation. The face becomes pale and sickly. Pale as death, with pains in the face, vertigo and nausea. Tearing pains in the face. Neuralgia of the face. Face bloated. Quivering and twitching of the muscles of the face. Paralysis of the muscles of the face. Numbness of the face. Twitching, jerking, numbness, paralysis, tearing pains. Prostration and nervous exhaustion accompany most of the complaints of Cocculus.
Stomach symptoms. Loathing of food. Metallic taste in the mouth. Bitter taste in the mouth. Sour, nauseous taste in the mouth, and no food tempts him. He lies there sick with a little fever or a “cold.” Headache, vertigo, nausea, loathing. Intermittent fevers with pains in the limbs, especially in the knees and bones of the legs, with that peculiar stiffness, nausea, and loathing of food. In intermittent fever or perhaps a low typhoid state, we have this loathing of food with nausea. You go to the bedside and you ask the nurse, “What have you been feeding the patient?” and the patient gags. The thought of food makes the patient gag. The nurse will say that every time she mentions food the patient gags. The thought of food or the smell of food in the other room, or in the kitchen, will nauseate the patient. These two medicines are Cocculus and Colchicum.
Paralytic conditions. Paralysis of the oesophagus. Cannot swallow. “Paralytic condition of the throat after diphtheria.” Sore throat with low forms of fever. The fever is gone but the patient does not rally, there is much nervous trembling, numbness, twitching of muscles and great weakness. Sensation as though a worm were crawling in the stomach. Spasms of the stomach. Violent attacks of gastralgia, violent cramp of the stomach. Griping, pinching, constrictive pain. The pain in the bowels feels as if the intestines were pinched between sharp stones. This causes fainting and vomiting. Colicky pains in the bowels; great distension of the abdomen, such as is found in typhoid fever; tension of the abdomen after drinking; flatulent colic. Tearing, cutting, spasmodic pains in the bowels. Radiating pains in the bowels accompanying . diarrhoea. A paralytic condition of the rectum. Inability to press at stool. Urging to stool and burning in rectum. Disposition to stool, but peristaltic motion in upper intestines is wanting.
Copious menstrual flow, menses too soon; last too long. Catamenia two weeks before the time. In women prostrated from grief and from anxiety, and from prolonged loss of sleep, menses come too soon, are copious and prolonged. Headache, vertigo, nausea. Violent, cramping pains in the bowels, clutching pains in the uterus during menstruation. Again, just such a patient as described will have a suppression of the menstrual flow, or for, weeks and months will have no menstrual flow; or just at the time the menstrual period should come on there is a copious leucorrhoea that takes the place of the menses. The woman is emaciated, and grows more and more sickly and chlorotic. The face is of greenish, yellow, sallow hue. “Leucorrhoea in place of the menses,” or “copious leucorrhoea between the menstrual periods.”
The heart is weak, pulse feeble. Paralytic weakness in the limbs, numbness, jerking of the muscles, twitching, quivering, loss of sensation, loss of power, muscular weakness in all the limbs. Numbness and paralytic feeling in the limbs. Awkwardness of the fingers and hands. On attempting to grasp the one hand with the other there is migratory numbness, or a more permanent numbness associated with paralytic weakness, sometimes changeable; sometimes one side is numb and the other paralyzed. The soles of the feet go to sleep. Numbness of the soles of the feet, such as we have in locomotor ataxia; cold feet. The knees give way from weakness. Totters while walking and threatens to fall to one side. Knees stiff. Paralysis of the lower extremities, proceeding from the small of the back. Arising from cold, from the abuse of Mercury. Paralysis of the lower limbs, with stiffness, numbness and bruised feeling.
Sleeplessness from long nursing and from night watching; that is a symptom that I have called your attention to so often. Anxious, frightful dreams; ill effects from loss of sleep and night watching. “Slightest loss of sleep tells on him.”
Written by James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) and published first in his book "Materia Medica" (1905) James Tyler Kent was an American physician best remembered as a forefather of modern homeopathy.